An Answer to A.N.S.W.E.R.
January 22, 2004
by Becky Johnson
Many in the anti-war community received a copy of the following letter from the Arab-American and American Muslim communities. I have reprinted the letter below with my imbedded comments showing why I don't support the letter. I personally was opposed to the War in Iraq and favor bringing the US troops home ASAP. But this letter attacks Israel and tries to say the situation is the same. It is not. Read on for my imbedded comments. ---- Becky Johnson
TO THE US ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT
Dear peace and justice organizations and activists,
On March 20, 2004, the world will mobilize against war and
colonial occupations. The significance of this historic
day is evident to all and requires no further elaboration.
The political clarity and character of this mobilization
in the US, however, remains illusive.
This is where our community stands:
In confronting war, the people of Palestine....
BECKY; They do not mean any Jews who live in Palestinian territories.
...and Iraq have paid dearly.
BECKY: With nearly 20 attempted terrorist attacks daily, thousands killed in the past three years, and tens of thousands wounded, the Israeli people have also suffered.
They stand against the imperial project
shoulder to shoulder with communities of color and the
working class in the United States, along with great many
subjugated peoples around the globe - from Afghanistan to
Colombia, and from the Philippines to Vieques, and on.
BECKY: They do NOT stand with the Jews who they would deny
the right to have even one small country in the mideast.
Without a doubt, the Palestinian and Iraqi people are both
welded together in an inextricable unity at the forefront
of the global anti-war movement,...
BECKY: Right. Both the Palestinians and the Iraqis danced in the
street after 9-11. Saddam Hussein paid $25,000 checks to the
families of suicide bombers who had killed Israeli citizens, in public
ceremonies officiated by members of the PA cabinet.
...transforming themselves as a whole as its embodiment and paying in its defense
with the dearest of all - their very existence.
BECKY: Yes. The Palestinians actually encourge their young boys to go down daily and pelt IDF soldiers with rocks and concrete blocks. Sometimes their kids get shot. What kind of parent would put their child in harms way in this manner?
Yet, despite every home destroyed,...
BECKY: Such as the home destroyed that Rachel Corrie of the ISM was defending? There is no mention of the tunnels across the border to Egypt which imported guns, bombs, and explosives used in attacking Jewish civilian populations. Other homes destroyed by the Israelis have been the family homes of suicide bombers. These homes were destroyed in an attempt to safe lives.
... child murdered,...
BECKY: Let's look dispassionately at the facts. Comparing the undisputed death tolls of Palestinians and Israelis since Sept. 2000 -- May 2002, we find that 11.7% of the Palestinians killed were children under age 15. Among the Israelis, 57.7% of those killed were children under age 15. So now, who is killing children???
BECKY: Resolution 242 signed by the United Nations shortly after the 1967 war, clearly gave Israel control of Gaza and the West Bank as the victors in what was judged to be a defensive war. Israel was to maintain security until a peace agreement could be made. So far Israel has signed peace treaties with both Jordan and Egypt, and those borders are not in dispute. Israel, under the Oslo accords has tried to relinquish control of the largely Palestinian populated West Bank and Gaza, only to be met by unrelenting terrorist attacks. Israel is not "illegally" occupying any Palestinian land.
....and tree uprooted,....
BECKY: There is an Arab tradition to plant olive trees on lands they want to take over. The IDF has removed trees that have been illegally planted on property they don't own, trees that have been used to hide snipers, and lately trees that were in the way of the anti-terrorist barrier that Israel has been forced to put up. The tree removal can't be that severe since Israel was the only country in the world to have more trees at the turn of the 21st century than it had at the turn of the 20th century.
... town colonized...
BECKY: Jews have built new towns on the West Bank, but rarely displace any existing Palestinian residents. Most of these new towns are built on vacant land. Currently the built-up areas of Jewish settlements in the West Bank cover 1.7% of the land with the municipal boundaries covering 6.8% of the land. When you consider that Jewish settlements have existed on the West Bank for over 3000 years, this idea of "colonization" is really a ruse and empty rhetoric.
...and ethnically cleansed,...
BECKY: Israel has a diverse population of people of all colors, religions, and national origins. Israel is about 20% Arab/Muslim. By contrast, Iraq which had a Jewish population of 150,000 in 1948 only has 100 Jews living there in the whole country. Jordan does not allow any Jews to own property. Libya has NO JEWS left despite having 38,000 in 1948. The West Bank has an exploding population of Palestinian Arabs. So who is ethnically cleansing whom?
BECKY: The "Wall" is only 1 and a half miles long. The anti-terrorist barrier is 162 miles long. The wall is an anti-sniper wall. Israel has a right and a responsibility to defend its citizens from snipers, bombers, kidnappers, and suicide bombers.
... refugee remaining nation-less,...
BECKY: Why doesn't Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia each take a portion of the refugees and end their poor living conditions? Israel has already done more than its share in helping to house, feed, and provide services for the Palestinians.
...and incremental robbery of their self-determination,...
BECKY: Of 21 Arab countries, only two recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation. The rest, including many Palestinian organizations such as Hamas, the PLO, Islamic Jihad, and the El Aqsa Martyrs Brigade are actively seeking the destruction of Israel and the death or expulsion of the Jews.
... they remain the very antithetical formulation of empire...
BECKY: Israel is a democracy.
... and with a vision of justice for all.
BECKY: Except for gays, for women, for Jews, or for dissenters. Israel by contrast, has courts which protect both Jews and Palestinians.
In the United States, we, Arab-Americans and Muslims have
been maliciously targeted, stripped of our rights, and
positioned outside the constitutional framework of this
BECKY: For every 4 hate crimes in the USA against Arab/Muslims there are 10 hatecrimes against Jews.
A new COINTELPRO has been unleashed against our
homes and living rooms, as our fathers, mothers, sons, and
daughters are plucked away and thrown into unknown prison
BECKY: I am against this also.
Thus, in a continuum of history, we stand with African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and all others in the painful struggle for justice. From them all, we take our cue, for they are our predecessors and our partners in this long march.
Accordingly, we the undersigned hereby declare that:
1. We do not accept delinking the struggle of the
Palestinian people from the anti-war movement, and regard
the struggle in Palestine, as it is viewed worldwide, to
be central to any peace and justice mobilization.
BECKY: Those in the anti-war movement who are against the use of violence, should disassociate from the Palestinians as they are an extremely violent culture that names schools and streets after suicide bombers, and train their children to commit suicide.
2. We insist that the Palestinian right to return and to
self-determination are the key anchors of the Palestinian
BECKY: 650,000 Arabs fled in 1948. Of these, 170,000 have already
returned legally and through Israeli immigration processes. Currently there
are 3.2 MILLION Palestinians on the West Bank and another MILLION in Gaza.
So who needs to be returned? The youngest person is 54 years old now. This is a non-issue.
.... and that organizations that attempt to diminish,
sidetrack, or abrogate these rights, regardless of any
other position they may take on Palestine, are acting
contrary to the will and aspiration of the Palestinian
BECKY: The Palestinian "people" didn't even start to call themselves that until about 1968, right after the 1967 war, and 20 years after Israel was founded. Before that they called themselves "Arabs".
3. We view all attempts to relegate our collective
presence to the margin and to tokenize our participation
in the movement to be racist in character.
BECKY: Call me a racist then.
In its attempt to silence the Arab and Muslim voices for decades,
BECKY: And to counter their oft-told lies...
...particularly that of the Palestinian people, the movement
in the US has stood alone in the global movement for
BECKY: Thats because peace advocates in the US have been duped.
We see ourselves as full partners in leading the
movement as signified in the heavy price we continue to
pay along the way, and reject any attempt to objectify our
BECKY: Why don't you act to pressure your own community to give up guns, bombs, suicide bombers, snipers, poisonings, kidnappings, knifings, theft of property, and all other forms of violence against the civilian population in Israel? You want respect from the American anti-war movement? Take that log out of thine own eye.
4. We regard the positions that the "colonial occupation
of Iraq must be internationalized", or that ending the
occupation must be conducted over a period of time until
the "Iraqis are able to secure their democracy", as
implicitly colonial and racist. These are positions that
are rooted in the construct of "manifest destiny" and the
"white man's burden" to "civilize".
BECKY: I don't know about all that rhetoric. I do think the US occupation of Iraq is a true occupation. Saddam Hussein was a blood-thirsty dictator, but the Iraqi people should be given rule of their own country back and as soon as possible.
5. We call on our people everywhere to hold all
organizations accountable to the positions they take,
especially those that depict racist attitudes towards us,
implicitly or otherwise, particularly those that tokenize
and objectify our struggle. Any organization or movement
that finds it acceptable to minimize or disregard for
political expediency the struggle of any people should not
be allowed to function within the global justice movement.
Justice is neither selective, nor partial or conditional.
BECKY: I decry the anti-semiticism I see this organization presenting.
We are firm on these principles for the March 20th
mobilization and beyond as we call on all communities and
organizations to mobilize and stand in force under the
following unifying five slogans:
1. End all colonial occupations from Iraq to Palestine to
BECKY: There is no "colonial occupation" in the Palestinian territories.
2. Bring the troops home NOW!
3. No to internationalizing colonial occupations!
4. Stop the attacks on civil liberties!
BECKY: Stop the anti-semiticism!! Fair treatment towards Israel!
5. Money for jobs, education, and healthcare not for war!
As we salute and stand empowered with sectors of the
movement that have taken a principled stand on justice, we
seek to participate in the empowerment of all as we call
for a genuine global united front against war.
BECKY: Let me remind the readers of the 1948 war, the 1956 war, the 1967 war, the 1973 war ----all initiated by Arab countries against Israel. Also two bloody intifadas also against civilian Israeli populations. This group can call itself anti-war?
All out on March 20, 2004!